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China Travel Restrictions & Travel Advisory (Updated May 19, 2023)

China Travel Restrictions & Travel Advisory (Updated May 19, 2023)

Written by Chris QuanUpdated May. 29, 2023
Good news for travelers!

From April 29, all international travelers entering China will only need to take an antigen self-test instead of a PCR-test.

So, to enter China, all you need is a valid visa, passport, and a antigen self-test. A proof of vaccination is not required. Airlines won't check test results when boarding.

China has fully opened its borders after a three-year wait. From March 15, anyone with a valid Chinese visa (including visas applied for before March 28, 2020 like China tourist visa) can enter China without needing to apply for a new one.

All types of visa applications have also been resumed like tourist visa (L visa), and visa-free policies have been reinstated. China Highlights' first travelers who will enter through port visas got their permits on May 17th.

Travelers with ordinary passport from Singapore, Japan, or Brunei will need to apply for a China visa before entry according to the List of Agreements on Mutual Visa Exemption Between the People's Republic of China and Foreign Countries issued on February 22nd, 2023.

If you want to arrange a private tour, even tentatively, simply contact us. You'll receive a 100% refund of any payments made to China Highlights if you cancel up to three weeks before departure. (More details⇒)

Tibet is officially reopen to the foreign travelers. The local Tourism Bureau started to accept the applications for Tibet permits from March 15th 2023!

International travelers bound for Hong Kong will no longer need to take pre-flight COVID-19 test (no PCR test, no RAT test) from April 1.

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8 Ways to Enter China: All Open Now!

Since China has fully permitted visa applications, there are now several ways to enter the country.

1. Visa

If you still hold a valid Chinese visa (any type including tourist visa, 10-year visa, etc.), you can use it to enter China.

If you don't have a Chinese visa or your visa has expired, you can apply for a new one. All visas can now be applied for, including tourist visas, business visas, work visas, and so on. (International visitors can apply for a tourist visa to the Chinese Mainland in Hong Kong.)

For the documents required for a visa application, you can refer to the information given by a Chinese embassy/consulate. Please submit your application at least two months in advance.

To apply for a tourist visa (L visa), you will be asked to provide an invitation letter issued by a Chinese travel agency or individual or round-trip air tickets and hotel bookings.

When booking a private tour with us, we can provide you with an invitation letter, which is one more thing we do to make your travel more convenient, giving you more flexibility with your air tickets and hotel bookings.

Now it is very easy to apply for a visa. You can easily apply by yourself without an intermediary. The following is how one of our clients successfully applied for a Chinese tourist visa:

Usually, you will get your visa after 7 working days. The application fee is about USD185 for US citizens.

Q: What if my passport expires but my visa doesn't?

A: You can travel to China on the expired passport containing valid Chinese visa in combination with the new passport, provided that the identity information (name, date of birth, gender, nationality) on both passport identical.

If there is change to any of the above details, you must apply for a new visa.

Click here to plan your tailor-made tour now. Your 1:1 travel consultant will reply within 1 working day.

2. 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit Policy

If you do not apply for a Chinese visa, you may still have the opportunity to visit these areas of China visa free: the Shanghai area (including Suzhou, Hangzhou, etc.), the Beijing area (with Tianjin and Hebei), the Guangzhou area (Shenzhen, Zhuhai, etc.), and more. Take advantage of the 6-day visa-free entitlements.

Find out if you could use the 144-hour visa-free transit policy with our information on China's 144-hour Visa-Free Policy (Eligible Entry/Exit Ports, Applicable Countries, Documents to be Prepared...)

You can also obtain entry and exit control policies through the 24-hour hotline of the National Immigration Administration:

  • Beijing: 0086 (+86)-10-12367
  • Shanghai: 0086 (+86)-21-12367
  • Guangzhou: 0086 (+86)-20-12367

Quick Test: Will My Route Qualify for China 72/144-Hour Visa-Free Transit?

1. I will depart from (only applies to direct or connected flight):

2. I will arrive in China at [city], [airport / railway station / port].

3. My arrival date is...

4. I will leave for [country/region] from China (the bounding destination on the air ticket):

5. My departure date is...

6. My nationality is...

3. Port Visas (Landing Visas)

If you don't have time to get a visa, or if you find it cumbersome to apply for a tourist visa, you could consider traveling to China through a port visa.

Port visas can be applied for a group at least including 2 people. You need to enter the country within 15 days after you get your entry permit. The port visa allows a stay period of 1 to 2 months.

Applicable ports include Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Guilin, Xi'an, Chengdu, etc.

Note: Tourists from America are not granted a port visa in Shanghai.

Book your China trip with us and we can help you apply for a port visa.

4. Visa Exemption for ASEAN Tour Groups to Guilin

In addition, tour groups from ASEAN member countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei, and the Philippines, can visit Guilin for 144 hours without visas as long as they meet the visa-free transit policy requirements.

5. Shanghai Visa-Free Policy for Cruise Groups

Shanghai has a 15-day visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China via a cruise. You must arrive and depart on the same cruise and be received by a Chinese travel agent at the Shanghai Cruise Terminal (or Wusong Passenger Center).

6. Hainan Visa-Free Access

No visa is required for staying on Hainan Island for up to 30 days for ordinary passport holders from 59 countries. Groups and individual tourists must book a tour through an accredited travel agency.

Find out whether you qualify for the policy here.

7. Visa Exemption for the Pearl River Delta Area

International travelers from Hong Kong or Macau are able to visit the Pearl River Delta area (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, etc.) visa-free as long as they go with a registered tour provider, such as us.

8. APEC Cards

If you hold a valid APEC business travel card, you can simply enter China with the card without applying for a visa.

Travelers who hold a valid APEC business travel card can stay in China for up to 60 days.

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Do I Still Need PCR Test to Enter China

No. From April 29, all international travelers will only need to do an antigen self-test within 48 hours before departure instead of a PCR test.

Just declare the negative test result to China Customs by filling in a Health Declaration Form on the WeChat mini-program China Customs (scan the QR code below), at the website, or via the China Customs APP.

Airlines won't check test results when boarding. Just board the plane as normal.

QR code: WeChat miniprogram of China Customs
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Hong Kong / Macau Travel Restriction

Hong Kong Entry Requirements

Travelers from any region bound for Hong Kong will no longer need to take pre-flight COVID-19 test (no PCR test, no RAT test) from April 1.

There is no need for any tests when traveling from Hong Kong to the Chinese Mainland if you haven't been abroad or to Taiwan within 7 days of going. Otherwise, you will need to do a test.

Direct high-speed trains from Guangzhou and Shenzhen to Hong Kong are available now. In preparation for the Canton Fair, it is expected that direct high-speed ferries will be launched from Guangzhou Pazhou Port to Hong Kong's airport in mid-April.

Macau Entry Requirement

Travelers entering Macau from overseas will need to show a negative PCR test or rapid antigen detection test result for a time within 48 hours of leaving.

Travelers entering Macau from the Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong, or Taiwan don't need any test results. Nucleic acid test results are also not required for travel to the mainland from Macau (If you haven't been outside Macau or the Chinese Mainland for the 7 days prior to going).

Macau has resumed international transfer services. Foreign nationals who enter Macau and leave for the Chinese Mainland within 7 days after their entry are required to show a negative PCR test within 48 hours before departure.

Click here to plan your tailor-made tour now. Your 1:1 travel consultant will reply within 1 working day.

International Flights to China

Inbound and outbound international flights in the week beginning March 6th rose by more than 350% compared with a year earlier, to nearly 2,500 flights, according to Chinese flight tracking data from APP Flight Master.

At present, there are one or two direct flights a week from New York to Shanghai, Los Angeles to Beijing, Seattle to Shanghai, London to Guangzhou, etc.

There are also many flight options with stopovers that are more frequent and affordable. Testing at transit airports is now not required! (If you get tested at the initial departure point and your test result is still within 48 hours when you board the plane again)

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What to Expect When Traveling in China

The Coronavirus outbreak in China has subsided. China looks like it did in 2019 again. No special measures (like PCR tests or health codes) are required when traveling around China. All attractions are open as normal.

Wearing a mask is not mandatory when traveling. In hotels, masks are off for the most part. But in some crowded places, such as airports or subway stations, many people still wear masks.

Best Times to Travel to China

Weather-wise, the best times to visit China are spring (April–May) and autumn (September–October), when most of the popular places have their most tourism-friendly weather, except for the "golden weeks" — the first week of May and of October — when most attractions are flooded with Chinese tourists.

If you are looking for smaller crowds, favorable prices, and still good weather, you should consider March and April or September.

Tourism in cultural and historical destinations like Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an is hardly affected by weather conditions. They are suitable to be visited all year round.

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